The Gates of Hell

And I say also unto thee, “That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

In biblical times the gates of a city is where courts were held, and public business was transacted. It was the seat of municipal government. Smith’s Bible Dictionary states that the “gates of the city” were,

Places for public deliberation, administration of justice, or of audience for kings and rulers or ambassadors.

Thus the phrase “the gates of hell” would have been a figure of speech easily understood by the hearers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Charles J. Wilhelm notes that this phrase could well be translated, “the dominion of death” (Biblical Dyslexia, 2004, p. 68).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Windber, PA

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One Comment on “The Gates of Hell”

  1. Tom Ferguson Says:

    If we see that the word ‘Hell’ in our translations answers to the Hebrew ‘sheol’, we will eventually realize that the reference is not to a place of conscious torment, but rather a ‘state’ which is best defined as the opposite of life. As such we see that being resurrected from this state answers to, and clariffies the above quotation.


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